Before and After: Page proofs for James Joyce's Ulysses, 1922
The conservation department of the Ransom Center is responsible for the care and preservation of the Center's collections. This feature highlights repair and conservation work on collection items.
Treatment of the Ulysses page proofs was a team effort involving all the conservators in the department. In planning the treatment, the top priority was to maintain the subtle variations of color in the handwritten notations and corrections found in this text. The annotations of James Joyce, editor and publisher Sylvia Beach, and printer Maurice Darantiere continue to be the object of scholarly research. These annotations were made to the individually issued page proofs before they were bound together. The adhesive used for the binding and the type of binding structure made it impossible to read some of the annotations.
Even though the original binding was intact, the Ulysses page proofs were disbound to reveal the annotations hidden in the gutter margin. The brittleness of the low-quality paper used for the proofs, with tears at the edges of every page, also justified this treatment.
Following extensive testing of the media and paper colors, each leaf was deacidified with a non-aqueous solution of magnesium carbonate and then mended using Japanese paper. A custom housing that includes careful documentation of the original make-up of the gatherings was constructed to house the individual gatherings of the book.